We call donations to SDARL “investments” because you can expect a return on that investment through the leadership service of our graduates.

Why should you support SDARL financially? Because our graduates are people of action! You don’t see SDARL graduates sitting on the sidelines. They’re stepping up to service on commodity and corporate boards, in community organizations, in government, and in their families – leading and taking action. You can support our new class to have the same amazing leadership development experience as members of our first 10 classes. Please click the secure link below to make your investment today!


SDARL Leadership Walt Bones
SDARL alumni events

What Is SDARL?

SDARL is an asset to growing South Dakota! Through an 18-month leadership development program, seminars for FFA instructors and commodity groups, and advanced leadership learning for alumni, the South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Foundation is building the leadership capacity of our state.


  • First Dakota National Bank
  • Valley Queen Cheese
  • Agropur
  • Edge
  • Raven Industries


  • Agtegra
  • Avera Health
  • CHS Foundation
  • Dacotah Bank
  • First Interstate Bank
  • First Premier Bank & Premier Bank Card
  • South Dakota State University


  • Black Hills Energy
  • East River Electric Power Cooperative
  • Farm Credit Services of America
  • First National Bank in Sioux Falls
  • Fishback Financial Corporation – First Bank and Trust
  • Glen and Janet Davis – Legend Seeds
  • Midwest Dairy Association
  • Sanford Health
  • South Dakota Beef Industry Council
  • South Dakota Corn Growers
  • South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council
  • South Dakota Pork Producers Council


  • Black Hills Forest Resource Association
  • Dakotaland Feeds
  • Dakota Mill & Grain
  • DeSmet Farm Mutual
  • First National Bank in Yankton
  • Great Western Bank
  • Hurley & Associates
  • MetaBank
  • Millborn Seeds
  • Riverview Farms
  • South Dakota Agricultural Foundation
  • South Dakota Community Foundation
  • South Dakota Farm Bureau
  • South Dakota Soybean Processors
  • Zoetis



Who Participates?

The flagship 18-month SDARL leadership program is made up of a class of participants: men and women approximately aged 25-55 years, who are employed full-time in production agriculture, agri-related occupations, or community/rural development. Participants must live in South Dakota or has a demonstrated sphere of influence that benefits South Dakota agriculture and rural communities. Participants have demonstrated leadership experience, and have a high potential for future leadership growth. There is an expectation that these individuals will serve in leadership capacities in their communities and the state.

A Selection Team considers the application and information obtained during an interview to determine which applicants will make the best “fit” into class. The recommendation of the Selection Team is then sent to the SDARL Board of Directors, which makes the final decision on class membership.

Why Support?

SDARL receives no direct dollars from the state or federal governments. The leadership program is funded by investments made to the SDARL Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 corporation. It costs $20,000 for one person to complete the program. Participants pay 25% of the cost, leaving about $16,000 needed for each person to attend seminars.

Program funding comes from companies, individuals, and partner organizations who share a passion for developing leaders who will keep South Dakota agriculture and rural communities thriving!

We call these contributions “investments” because the return on investment is lived out each day in the leadership service of our graduates.

Our Activities

SDARL provides leadership training on three levels:

SDARL Experiential Learning Timber

Flagship 18-month leadership program

The 300-plus graduates and current class members of this leadership program include South Dakota Secretaries of Agriculture, President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, officers of Agtegra, SD Corn Growers, SD Soybean Association, legislators, and community leaders. Our leaders serve on commodity boards and county boards, in legislative chambers and Chambers of Commerce—building consensus, building teams, building South Dakota.

SDARL in Lettuce field

Graduate Experience

Leaders recognize the need to be lifelong learners. SDARL graduates participate in domestic and international travel related to agriculture, receptions, and half-day seminars to advance their leadership potential at their own expense. This network of leaders also has self-funded social events such as golf outings and dinners, where ideas are exchanged and fellowship abounds.

SDARL training

Specialty Leadership Training

SDARL has a comprehensive leadership development curriculum and speaker’s bureau that is shared with partner organizations through leadership-oriented seminars. These partners include commodity organizations, community groups, and allied educational groups, such as the FFA. Contact the SDARL office to learn more.

Latest News

September 27, 2023

Join Class XII for an Evening with Coach Stig and President Dunn

SDARL alumni and friends are invited to join Class XII in Brookings on December 12, 2023 for “An Evening with Coach Stig and President Dunn.” …

September 14, 2023

Walt Bones (Class II) Inducted Into the South Dakota Hall of Fame

A Caring Advocate for Agriculture Article credit: South Dakota Hall of Fame When Walt Bones is asked to serve, he says “yes!” From serving as …

September 14, 2023

West River Golf Tournament Recap

Thank you and congratulations to all the players, winners, and sponsors of the SDARL West River Golf Tournament on September 7, 2023! It was a …